Monthly Archives: September 2011

Cornmeal biscuits with roasted vegetables

Matthew:  Now that it is getting cooler I’ve been itching to do more baking.  But with so much late  summer produce at hand, I decided to try something a little different.  I found the basic cornmeal biscuit recipe in The Joy of Cooking and then added some roasted corn, red bell peppers, jalapeno, and cheddar cheese right before forming the biscuits.  They didn’t rise as much as I hoped they would, but they still taste really good, especially warmed up.  Next time, I would add a little more than the half of a jalapeno that I used to spice them up a bit more.  Below is the biscuit recipe:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 t baking powder, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt.  Cut in 5-6 T cold butter until pieces are the size of breadcrumbs.  Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, mix.  (Add roasted veggies and cheese.)  With floured hands, gather dough into a ball and gently knead in the bowl.  Roll dough out 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares.  Bake 10-12 minutes.

Corn Relish

Matthew:  Well, I’m not sure that I’m ready to try canning at home yet, but I was curious about the corn relish that we canned for the food pantry.  I  made approximately 1/3 of this recipe, using corn, red bell pepper, onion, and a hot reddish/orangish pepper.  I also added a little extra liquid (water and vinegar) since it seemed like it needed more.  After it was done cooking, I let it cool in the fridge overnight and then tried it the next morning.  I was glad that the corn still had a crunch to it.  The red pepper adds a nice sweetness to contrast the vinegar.  I put the relish on a few different things, including a black bean burger, a fried egg on toast, a baked potato, and just some corn chips.  I was pleasantly surprised with how good this was.

Sunflower Millet Bread

Katie:  Ever since discovering millet, I’ve looked for different ways to use it, cooked or dry.  It’s great to use in breads as a way of adding some texture and a nutty flavor.  After enjoying seed bread with millet from a bakery, I decided to try to make some myself.  I found this recipe on Bread from a Novice Baker.  I substituted half whole wheat and half all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour.  I also toasted the sunflower seeds and let the bread rise longer than called for.  It turned out really good!  The honey was a sweet addition, and the bread was really moist.

Sunflower Millet Bread (slightly adapted from Pamela on The Fresh Loaf found via Bread from a Novice Baker)

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup whole hulled millet
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  1. Add the sunflower seeds to a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Toast seeds, stirring occasionally until they turn light brown.  Remove from pan and let cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast and water, stirring until dissolved. Blend in the honey, seeds, and millet. Mix in 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all-purpose flour until blended. Cover the bowl with a towel and let proof about 30 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a light, bubbly sponge.
  3. Stir down the sponge and blend in the oil and salt. Gradually add remaining flour to make a soft, workable dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and resilient. Cover with a towel and let rest 30 minutes.
  4. Lightly grease two 8 1/2-inch loaf pans. Divide dough in half, shape into loaves, and place in the pans. Cover an let rise 1 hour.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the loaves about 35 mintues, or until golden brown. Remove the pans and let cool and wire racks.
    Makes 2 loaves.

A Tale of Two Desserts

Katie:  I was in the mood to bake this week, and I ended up making two very different desserts:  Sweet Potato Cookies and Red Wine Chocolate Cake!

While making roasted sweet potatoes for dinner, I ended up having an extra sweet potato which I decided to bake.  This recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Oatmeal Cookies from Skinnytaste looked really good, so I pureed the sweet potato and substituted it for the canned pumpkin in the recipe.  I also toasted the oats in a pan to enhance their flavor and added chocolate chips.  These cookies turned out well and were a yummy, yet fairly healthy, treat!

For my second dessert, I turned to something much more decadent.  When I saw this recipe for Red Wine Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen, I was definitely smitten.  I was intrigued to see what chocolate cake with 3/4 cup red wine would taste like.  I prepared the recipe as written, but didn’t make the whipped mascarpone topping, since I didn’t have those ingredients.  I ended up baking it for 30 minutes, just until it was set.  I almost had a cake disaster trying to flip it over, but I was able to hide most of its scars with some powdered sugar.  This cake tasted great!  It was rich and moist.  The wine was subtly noticeable and complimented the chocolatey flavor well.

Canning Adventures Continued: Roasted Red Pepper Spread

Katie:  Fully equipped with canning equipment, we decided to begin by trying Roasted Red Pepper Spread from the Ball cookbook.  Our first step was to find the ingredients.  After buying out two venders and accumulating two bags full of red bell peppers, we still needed to buy two more peppers from the store to reach six pounds.  The peppers roasted nicely in the broiler and the skins can off pretty easily.  They smelled great!

After pureeing the skinned and deseeded peppers and tomatoes in the food processor, we mixed in roasted garlic, roasted onion, fresh basil, red wine vinegar, and a little salt and sugar, and simmered it down to a thicker paste.  It became a little dangerous when the sauce started spurting really high.  My mom even got some in her hair!  But we got it back under control.

Next, we relied on the canning techniques we’ve been acquiring.  We filled jars that were sterilized in the dishwasher, measured the correct head space, cleaned the rims, and sealed the jars.  Then, we boiled them in the canner.  We were happy that they came out clean without exploding and we even heard the lovely pop of the jars sealing.  Now we have jars of delicious pepper spread to store, give away, or enjoy whenever we want.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Corn Salad

Katie:  After a warm, sunny summer, it’s hard to see the days getting shorter and the air getting chillier.  At least there’s one thing that helps make the transition to fall a bit easier:  pumpkins!!  I’ve been spotting pumpkins, or as I’m always corrected “squash”, at the farmer’s market for the last couple of weeks.  I made two batches of muffins with the ambercup squash I found.

After a difficult week, I was in need of a pumpkin to cheer me up a little.  I had a butternut squash to use, but didn’t want to make anything too wintery yet.  Since sweet corn is still in season, I was happy to find this recipe for Roasted Butternut and Corn Salad.  The roasted butternut and corn made an interesting combination.  I only used 1/2 of a chili pepper for the dressing, but it was still pretty spicy, so I’m glad I decided not to mix it in the salad.  I added extra fresh basil.  The toasted sunflower seeds and feta cheese enhanced the other flavors.  Next time, I might try adding some lime or lemon juice or even some yogurt to the dressing to balance the spiciness.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Corn Salad (adapted slightly from The First Mess)
serves: 2-4

  • 1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • olive oil
  • 1/2  – 1 small chili/hot pepper (I used a Thai chili pepper)
  • 3 ears of corn, husked and cleaned
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (I toasted them in a skillet over medium-high heat until they were lightly brown)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2-4 fresh basil leaves, slivered
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the pieces of squash with 2 teaspoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread out onto a baking sheet. Add the whole chili to the sheet as well. Roast until the squash is soft, about 30 minutes. The chili should be crinkly and slightly brown. Remove the seeds and stem from the chili and set aside.

While the squash is roasting, cut the corn from the cobs.  Mix with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until corn begins to turn light brown. Set aside.

For the dressing, combine the apple cider vinegar, agave nectar, garlic, roasted chili, dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons oil, water, salt, and pepper in a blender. Blend mixture until well-mixed.

Combine the squash, corn, and basil in a large bowl.  Top individual servings with dressing, roasted seeds, and feta cheese.

Canning 101

Katie:  When my mom asked me if I wanted to take a pickle making class with her, I was kind of reluctant.  Canning pickles sounded like a pasttime for little old ladies.  But she was pretty persistent, so I agreed to try it.  When we got to the class, I was surprised that I wasn’t the youngest participant.  There was a span of about 3 generations of women gathered to learn how to properly can pickles.

Canning is also more scientific than I expected and involves exact methods and safety precautions.  The class was taught by Master Food Preservers through the UW Extension program.  While canning is somewhat time consuming, it was fun doing it as a group and sharing the work.  We worked together chopping and adding ingredients, and learned about the proper methods along the way.

After learning to can pickles, we also took a salsa canning class, which was even more popular.  We used 100 pounds of tomatoes and each took 2 cans of salsa home with us.  We also recently volunteered to can corn relish using locally grown and donated produce for a local food pantry, which became my brother’s introduction to canning.

Now that we’ve been able to learn the proper techniques, we’ve gotten the equipment ourselves and are looking forward to experimenting with other recipes and making gifts for others!

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